Mladenovic eyes Billie Jean King Cup defense

28.09.2021    Views: 1202
Source: KTF press-service
Courtney Walsh

After leading France to a superb triumph in the last edition of the Fed Cup, Kristina Mladenovic is looking with optimism to the nation’s delayed title defense in early November.
After surviving a marathon first round match at the Astana Open on Tuesday against Anna Danilina, Mladenovic said the French team were looking forward to representing their nation in the the prestigious competition now named the Billie Jean King Cup.
Mladenovic, who defeated Danilina 6-4 6-7 (5) 6-4 in 2hr 53min, described her role in France's 2019 success over Australia in the Fed Cup final played in Perth as one of the biggest highlights of her career.
The 28-year-old has won five grand slam doubles titles and has also reached three major quarterfinals, ranking as high as ten in singles and peaking as the World No. 1 in doubles.
But her effort in Perth, where she defeated Australian favorite and World No. 1 Ash Barty in a pivotal rubber, was crucial to France claiming the Fed Cup after a testing defeat at home in the 2016 final.
«You made me have goose bumps. For me, the Fed Cup definitely was … a dream as a little girl when I started playing tennis in France,» she said.
«I was watching those ties on TV, whether it was Fed Cup or Davis Cup, and playing for you country in front of this crowd, it was always something special that I wanted to experience.
«What happened in Australia was just absolutely unexpected from the outside world. We were not favorite. I gave it my all and it was a fantastic weekend, really. It is something that I will never forget.
«And I think the scenario was amazing. It was the last Fed Cup in this format. We played the final at the end of the world. Not much of our crowd. Barty was the World No. 1. It could not have been better. It was very high in my achievements.»
France will open the Billie Jean King Cup, which was not held last year due to the pandemic, on November 1 against Canada. The Russian Tennis Federation is also in their group of three.
Under the new format, the Billie Jean King Cup will be held over six days, with 12 nations split into groups of three. The qualifiers from the round-robin stage will move into sudden death semifinals.
«We have a WhatsApp group where we chat with the captain and the girls,» Mladenovic said.
«We have been sent all the details for the trip and it is kind of getting closer, so it is going to be a new adventure, a new journey. I am looking forward to it.»
Mladenovic was pleased to be able to edge local wildcard Danilina in her opening match in the first WTA 250 tournament to be held in Kazakhstan.
With the Kazakhstan hopeful showing great defensive skills in Nur-Sultan, the French right-hander was forced to work extremely hard, but her experience proved vital in the closing stages.
«I thought in the end that she played much better than her ranking on paper,» she said.
«There were lots of rallies and I was still going for my shots and I thought that I was aggressive, but we had very long rallies and we played nearly three hours and I kind of forced it as well, which is why I had lots of mistakes. But, in the end, it is the way to play. You cannot wait forever.»

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